Monday 15 August 2016

Bible Book:

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law.” (v. 4)

Galatians 4:4-7 Monday 15 August 2016

Psalm: Psalm 45


For Roman Catholic Christians, today is the feast of theAssumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, based on the ancient beliefthat Mary, at the end of her life, was taken body and soul directlyinto heaven. Although this was only made formal Catholic doctrinein 1950, it has been part of the liturgical celebration ofCatholics for many centuries and is expressed in countless works ofart. Behind the story of Mary's assumption is the belief that sheholds a key role in the family of those who are members of the bodyof Christ, that as well as having been the mother of Jesus she isalso, in a sense, the mother of all those who are joined to Christthrough baptism and the Christian life.  

Within the Methodist Church you are unlikely to hear a referenceto the assumption of Mary, and there are good reasons forquestioning its historical credibility as a literal story. ButMethodists, in common with most Christians in the Protestanttradition, have been so wary of what they see as the excesses ofCatholic devotion to Mary that they have almost completelyneglected her, airbrushing Mary out of the story of Jesus Christ.Today's passage, from Paul's letter to the Galatians, gives us agentle reminder that we cannot tell the story of Jesus withoutreferring to his mother. What Paul seems to be saying is this: justas in Jesus God came to share the life of a human family, soChristians now find themselves in a new family-relationship withGod. This new relationship means that we are so intimately joinedto Christ that we share his relationship to God as father. 'Abba'is simply an Aramaic word that means 'Father'. Early Christianwriters were fond of saying that 'God became as we are so that wemight become as God is'. This means that the ancient tradition ofreferring to Mary as 'Mother of God' is a true reflection of thebiblical story. It simply bears witness to the truth of theincarnation, that in Jesus the eternal Son of God entered into thefabric of human life.

In the contemporary West we tend to focus on individualidentity. That is true, even in our spirituality. The culture inwhich Paul wrote (like many non-Western cultures today) had a muchstronger sense that we are only who we are through our family andcommunity relationships.

To Ponder

  • How might our spirituality be enriched by taking the role ofMary more seriously?
  • How has your personal identity been shaped by your familyrelationships? What difference could it make if you shared thefamily relationship with God enjoyed by Jesus? 
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